In today's fast-paced business environment, understanding the complexities of employee behavior is crucial for any Human Resources professional. One such complex issue is 'job abandonment,' a form of quitting where no notice is given.
It's hard enough to replace an employee who gives notice. Handling one that disappears without warning? Talk about an extra challenge.
Whether you're an HR veteran or a budding professional, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to handle cases of job abandonment effectively and professionally.
What Is Job Abandonment?
Job abandonment is when an employee does not show up for work and does not respond to attempts to reach them. They may have given no notice of their intent to leave or may have only given brief notice. In some cases, they may have already removed all personal belongings from their workstation as well, which indicates there is no intention of returning to work. Other times there is no clear indicator they have no plans to return.
Employees should be aware that job abandonment is considered a type of voluntary resignation. Voluntary resignation is when the employee chooses to end their employment with a company, usually by formally resigning from their position. Because it is considered a voluntary resignation, employees that abandon their jobs are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
Why Do People Abandon Their Jobs?
Although it can be easy to assume carelessness is the reason for an employee to abandon their job, there are many reasons someone may choose to leave without informing their employer.
Some employees have genuine reasons for not immediately notifying their employers of an absence, including medical emergencies or lack of access to a phone or the internet. People also abandon their jobs because they find a new position elsewhere and fail to properly notify their current employer. Sometimes it is a matter of being too embarrassed to quit in person, or simply not understanding the company’s job abandonment policies. And of course, some people abandon their jobs due to negligence or carelessness.
Poor culture and a lack of recognition can be workplace-related reasons for job abandonment. Three out of every five workers are motivated to quit due to poor company culture, according to a FlexJobs survey, and nearly half are tempted to leave their job due to poor work boundaries. Creating a positive company culture by encouraging employees to utilize their available time off can help prevent burnout and reduce the risk of job abandonment.
What Makes a Job Abandonment Policy Effective
Since there is no federal law that explicitly defines job abandonment, it is the responsibility of each company to establish their own criteria for determining it.
A clear job abandonment policy defines what constitutes job abandonment (including the number of consecutive no-call, no-show days that qualify), outlines the company's efforts to contact absent employees, and specifies the consequences for such abandonment. Employees should know that job abandonment is considered a voluntary resignation, making them ineligible for unemployment benefits.
As part of this policy, companies should have a procedure for investigating and terminating offenders. To protect the organization from accusations of wrongful termination, employers should carefully investigate each instance of suspected job abandonment. It is the employer’s responsibility to establish that the employee had no intention of returning to work. Once the investigation is complete, employers should follow a detailed termination process that mitigates potential liability.
When developing a policy, keep in mind that — while there is not a federal law specific to job abandonment — there are other employment laws that can impact a job abandonment policy. Medical emergencies, for example, can prevent employees from notifying their employer of an absence in advance, so the abandonment policy should address short-term disability and FMLA. Employers should be familiar with these laws and make sure their policy does not contradict them. To avoid legal action, employers should confirm that the job abandonment was voluntary and not a case of miscommunication.
Employers are responsible for notifying employees of their pending termination if job abandonment is suspected. This gives employees the opportunity to contact and inform the employer about the circumstances of their absence. This written notification, or job abandonment letter, should be sent using registered mail so that there is proof that it was served.
Job Abandonment Policy Example
It’s a good idea to have your job abandonment policy in several places that are easily accessible to staffers, such as a work intranet and employee handbook. It might look something like this.
Sample Job Abandonment Policy
Job Abandonment Policy
This policy outlines our company’s definition of job abandonment and the consequences for such abandonment.
What is Job Abandonment?
Job abandonment occurs when an employee does not show up to work . This includes any time when an employee fails to contact their supervisor or Human Resources department regarding any absences prior to the established no-call, no-show period.
Our company makes every effort to reach out to any employees that are absent for more than two consecutive days without notification. To do this, we will send a written notice via registered mail to the last known address on file with Human Resources. The notice will serve as an opportunity for employees who have been absent without notification to contact the company and explain the circumstances of their absence.
If no contact is made within 3 days from the date of mailing, it is assumed that there was voluntary resignation on behalf of the employee and job abandonment shall be considered as such. Upon job abandonment being confirmed, all employment benefits are terminated immediately and all pay due at that time will be forfeited by the employee unless stated otherwise in applicable laws including but not limited to short-term disability or FMLA laws.
Preventing Job Abandonment
Taking care of employee wellbeing is key to preventing job abandonment. Building an organizational culture that values holistic wellbeing and encourages perusal growth can boost your talent retention. After all, seven out of 10 employees would consider leaving an organization that doesn’t focus on employee wellbeing. Companies that offer Gympass — an flexible wellness subscription that offers thousands of on-demand and in-person wellness activities — see turnover drop by up to 40%.
Talk to a wellbeing specialist to learn how Gympass’ integrated wellness platform can help boost your talent retention.
- Boatman, Andrea. (February 24, 2021). Job Abandonment: All HR Needs to Know. AIHR. Retrieved Sept 21, 2023 from https://www.aihr.com/blog/job-abandonment/.
- Job Abandonment: What is it, and How Should You Handle it? (June 4, 2018). Deputy. Retrieved Sept 21, 2023 from https://www.deputy.com/blog/job-abandonment-what-is-it-and-how-should-you-handle-it.
- Robinson, Bryan. (May 3, 2022). Discover The Top 5 Reasons Workers Want To Quit Their Jobs. Forbes. Retrieved Sept 21, 2023 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2022/05/03/discover-the-top-5-reasons-workers-want-to-quit-their-jobs/?sh=daf2ef95d466.
- Sachdeva, Akshay. Anderson, Gustav. (May 16, 2022). Job Abandonment: What is it, How it Happens & How to Handle it. Workforce. Retrieved Sept 21, 2023 from https://workforce.com/news/job-abandonment-what-it-is-how-it-happens-how-to-handle-it
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.